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Aluminum prices surge to highest level since 2011 as US sanctions on Russia take out big producer

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A worker loads a liquid electrolyte into the electrolysis bath at the Krasnoyarsk aluminum smelter, operated by United Co. Rusal, in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images 

A worker loads a liquid electrolyte into the electrolysis bath at the Krasnoyarsk aluminum smelter, operated by United Co. Rusal, in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

Aluminum prices surged to their highest level in six years on Monday, extending a recent rally that follows the U.S. sanctioning of Russian aluminum giant Rusal.

The metal traded as high as $2,403 per ton on the London Metal Exchange, before holding more than 4 percent higher at 2,379.

On April 6, the U.S. slapped sanctions on several Russian oligarchs, officials, businesses and agencies, including Rusal. The sanctions freeze all of Rusal’s assets that are under U.S. jurisdiction.

Rusal — which saw its stock hit a record low on Monday — is one of the largest aluminum producers in the world. The company’s collapse has the potential to take a large chunk of aluminum supply from the market. In fact, Rio Tinto — one of the largest mining companies in the world — said Friday it would declare force majeure on some of its contracts with Rusal.

“The main thing that has been a catalyst behind aluminium has been the issues around the sanctions against Rusal which will make the market tighter,” ETF Securities analyst Nitesh Shah told Reuters. “In addition to that is the weaker dollar and the general upside for industrial metals in recent days that is working in aluminium’s favor.”

Aluminum’s surge comes more than a month after President Donald Trump slapped a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports to the U.S.

Trump bragged the tariffs were not having a negative effect on the U.S. economy.

He said in an April 6 tweet: “Despite the Aluminum Tariffs, Aluminum prices are DOWN 4%. People are surprised, I’m not! Lots of money coming into U.S. coffers and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!”

Aluminum prices were down for the year when Trump sent his tweet. However, prices have skyrocketed more than 20 percent since the U.S. unveiled sanctions against Russia.

The Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that Trump walked back a comment made by U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley about additional sanctions being implemented, noting he was not yet comfortable taking that course of action. Haley said Sunday new sanctions on Russian entities would be announced Monday.



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Investors should take a bite of this stock

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Workers assemble semi trailers on the factory floor at the Wabash National Corp. manufacturing facility in Lafayette, Indiana.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Workers assemble semi trailers on the factory floor at the Wabash National Corp. manufacturing facility in Lafayette, Indiana.

Finally, Cramer looked into why a top truck manufacturer at the “sweet spot of e-commerce” issued a wildly negative earnings preannouncement on Friday.

Between a lack of new workers, rising raw costs due to steel tariffs and slumping demand, Wabash National’s business is being squeezed, and the Fed’s plans to hike interest rates several more times don’t exactly help, Cramer said.

And while the “Mad Money” host understood why Fed Chair Jerome Powell was forecasting more rate hikes — rising labor costs, like those for overtime, tend to be inflationary — he thought some inflation was “a small price to pay for a strong economy.”

“Let’s call it a consequence of full employment. Why not just let those workers make a little more money?” he said. “Companies like Wabash and Thor [Industries will] sort it out. They got that big tax cut anyway. Meanwhile, the tariffs are already slowing down the economy, so the Fed may not need to take much more action anyway.”

But if the Fed doesn’t listen, U.S. manufacturers aren’t exactly left with a pretty picture, Cramer warned.

“We’re left with this situation where, just when a down-and-out manufacturer finally has some hope for a big year, it’s gotten hit with the triple-whammy of higher labor costs, higher steel costs and higher interest rates,” he said. “To me, these rate hikes seem like an awfully high price to pay to break an inflationary cycle that’s mostly government-made to begin with.”



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Adobe, JB Hunt and more

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People enter the Adobe Systems Inc. office in San Francisco, California.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

People enter the Adobe Systems Inc. office in San Francisco, California.

Adobe stock rose nearly 6 percent during after-hours trading after it announced its growth strategy on Monday at its analyst meeting. It estimates that its 2019 revenue to grow 20 percent year over year and its digital experience subscription bookings to grow by 25 percent. Thomson Reuters predicts its fourth quarter earnings per share to be $1.89 and its revenue to be $2.43 billion.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services fell as low as 3 percent during after-hours trading on Monday after the trucking company reported mixed third quarter earnings. The company reported earnings per share of $1.47, which beat analyst estimates of $1.38 per share. Revenues, however, missed expectations, with the company reporting $2.21 billion, coming in slightly below analyst estimates of $2.2 billion. J.B. Hunt stock later regained most of its post-market losses and traded positive.

Shares of Twilio, a cloud communications company, fell about 4 percent in post-market trading after announcing that it will acquire SendGrid in a $2 billion all-stock transaction. This equates to about $36.92 a share based on Monday’s closing price. The transaction is expected to close in 2019.



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Facebook removes accounts spreading military propaganda in Myanmar

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Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg

Matt McClain | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook said it removed numerous pages and accounts linked to the Myanmar military that were being used to spread propaganda to approximately 1.35 million people, the company’s latest effort to crack down on the spread of misinformation across its network.

“We want to make it more difficult for people to manipulate our platform in Myanmar and will continue to investigate and take action on this behavior,” Facebook said in a blog post on Monday. The company said it removed 13 pages and 10 accounts that were “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook in Myanmar.”

Facebook has been plagued by abusive activity over the last couple of years, as groups exploit the social network to spread propaganda, abusive content and false information, often in an effort to influence elections or stir up hate between different cultural groups.

In Myanmar, Facebook was used as part of a campaign that targeted the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority group, according to a report Monday by the New York Times, which cites unnamed “former military officials, researchers and civilian officials in the country.” The campaign included the creation of Facebook accounts and entertainment, beauty and informational pages that were used to push incendiary comments and posts.

Facebook announced in August that it wanted to prevent organizations and individuals in Myanmar from using its services to commit or enable serious human rights abuses in the country. At the time, the company said it was removing 18 Facebook accounts, 52 pages and one Instagram account that reached nearly 12 million people.

Beyond Myanmar, the company has been busy removing pages and accounts that abuse its community guidelines and policies. Last week, for example, Facebook said it had taken down 559 pages and 251 accounts that were being used to spam users with clickbait posts.

WATCH: Facebook says security breach affected 30 million accounts



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